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Knowing How

Researching and Writing Nonfiction, 3-8

Mary C. McMackin and Barbara S. Siegel

Revitalize research reports! Combining research with compelling writing is challenging for The authors demystify the research process and provide tools students need to shape their research into substantive, well-written products that communicate with readers and reflect passion that each brings to a subject she or he loves.

(Check out the Study Guide that accompanies Knowing How. The Study Guide is in PDF format so you'll need Adobe's Acrobat Reader to view the pages.)


Product Details

  • Author: Mary C. McMackin and Barbara S. Siegel
  • ISBN: 978-157110-340-6
  • Year:2002
  • Media: 176 pp/paper
  • Grade Range: 3-8
  • Item No: WEB-0340

When you assign a research report, do you hear groans of dismay? Audible groans from the students and your own internal groan, because you know that most of what you read, and have to grade, will be a lifeless string of facts, as devoid of the writer's voice as an encyclopedia entry?

It doesn't have to be that way. Combining research with compelling writing is challenging for upper elementary and middle school students, but when done well reports embody the passion that every student brings to the subject she or he loves.

Mary McMackin and Barbara Siegel sought a way to help students bring real vitality to this crucial assignment, to tap into their true interests, energies, and imagination, and to help students unlock the complex, nonlinear process of researching and reporting. To do this Mary and Barbara each chose a research topic and worked alongside Barbara's fifth graders at each stage of the research and writing process.

In Knowing How, they demystify the research process and provide tools students need to shape their research into substantive, well-written products that communicate with readers. This practical guide for current and preservice teachers is divided into two parts:

Part I focuses on the research process—formulating a substantive research question or thesis statement, and collecting and organizing relevant data before writing a first draft.
Part II focuses on reporting and assessment—composing a first draft using the organized information; revising the paper so it has an engaging lead, effective transitions, and a strong conclusion; and assessing nonfiction writing, aligning assessment criteria and tools with those used to assess state standardized writing performances.

The authors share examples of almost fifty exemplary leads, transitions, and conclusions used by professional authors as well as their own students. In each case, they provide a close analysis of how authors craft these elements so students can use the same strategies in their nonfiction writing. Each chapter also includes Teacher to Teacher tips that offer practical suggestions for applying these lessons in the classroom.

Completing this resource are letters to parents, a sample time line for the project (calendar), tips for working with other professionals, and appendixes that include a list of age-appropriate nonfiction picture books that model each of the strategies introduced, suggestions for using technology to enhance researching, and sample student reports.

Table of Contents

Preview this book online!


Part One: Researching
1. Getting There from Here
2. Journeying from Topic to Research Question
3. Transforming Their Ideas into My Ideas

Part Two: Revising and Assessing
4. What's the Connection? Transitions and Organizational Structures
5. It Started How? Leads
6. Is It Done Yet? Conclusions
7. Did We Succeed? Assessment

Appendix A: Using Nonfiction Picture Books to Model Expository Writing Strategies
Appendix B: Using Technology to Enhance Researching
Appendix C: Student Reports>
Appendix D: List of Strategies for Transitions, Leads, Conclusions

About the Authors

Mary McMackin
Mary C. McMackin is an associate professor and program director for the Graduate Elementary Education programs at Lesley University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she also teaches literacy courses. >more

Barbara Siegel
Barbara S. Siegel has taught in the Arlington, Massachusetts Public Schools for over 30 years. >more



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